Former US ethics official files complaint against Trump aide Conway

WASHINGTON, Nov 22 (Reuters) - The former head of a U.S. government ethics watchdog said on Wednesday he had filed a complaint claiming senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway violated a law barring executive branch employees from engaging in political activity when she spoke on television against a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Conway, in an interview on Fox News Channel on Monday, railed against Doug Jones, the Democratic candidate in the Dec. 12 special election for an Alabama seat in the U.S. Senate.

"Doug Jones in Alabama? Folks, don't be fooled. He'll be a vote against tax cuts," Conway said. Jones's Republican rival, Roy Moore, has been accused of pursuing teenage girls when he was in his 30s.

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Kellyanne Conway in her White House role
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Kellyanne Conway in her White House role
White House Senior Advisor Kellyanne Conway speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, U.S., February 23, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway whispers to Senior Advisor Jared Kushner before U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivered joint statements from the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, U.S. June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway (L) laughs with other aides before U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivered joint statements from the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, U.S. June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway arrives for a meeting with the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis in Washington, U.S., June 16, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Vice President Mike Pence and White House senior advisor Kellyanne Conway leave after attending a Republican party policy lunch meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. July 11, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
White House Senior Advisor Kellyanne Conway holds up a memorandum from the Justice Department's Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein critical of Comey's position as director of the FBI at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 10, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
(L-R) Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Senior Advisor Stephen Miller walk on the South Lawn of the White House upon their return with President Donald Trump to Washington, U.S., May 17, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway arrives at Newark International airport in Newark, NJ U.S., with President Donald Trump, June 9, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway and Keith Schiller, deputy assistant to the president and director of Oval Office operations, follow U.S. President Donald Trump to Marine One as he departs for a day trip to Kenosha, Wisconsin, from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., April 18, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway takes part in a strategic and policy CEO discussion with U.S. President Donald Trump in the Eisenhower Execution Office Building in Washington, U.S., April 11, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
White House Senior Advisor Kellyanne Conway waves as she arrives to speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, U.S., February 23, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Senior advisors Stephen Miller and Kellyanne Conway watch as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Donald Trump hold a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway leaves after attending House Republican conference meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 23, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, attended the joint press conference of President Donald Trump and President Klaus Iohannis of Romania, in the Rose Garden of the White House, on Friday, June 9, 2017. (Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 05: White House Senior Advisor, Kellyanne Conway (L), stand with White House Communications Director, Hope Hicks, during a news conference with U.S. President Donald Trump and King Abdullah II of Jordan, at the White House April 5, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump held talks on Middle East peace process and other bilateral issues with King Abdullah II. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, listens as US President Donald Trump speaks at American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti, Michigan on March 15, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Kellyanne Conway, senior counselor to US President Donald Trump, walks to a House Republican conference meeting at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on March 23, 2017. US President Donald Trump held last-minute negotiations with fellow Republicans to avoid a humiliating defeat Thursday in his biggest legislative test to date, as lawmakers vote on an Obamacare replacement plan which conservatives threaten to sink. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 21: Kellyanne Conway, aide to President Donald Trump, arrives in the Capitol for Trump's meeting with the House Republican Conference on Tuesday, March 21, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 10: Counselor to the President Donald Trump, Kellyanne Conway attends the swearing in ceremony of Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) to be the new Health and Human Services Secretary., on February 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. Conway has been under fire for her comments about Ivanka Trump's clothing line during a TV interview. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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Walter Shaub, who stepped down as director of the Office of Government Ethics in July, said in a Twitter post: "I have filed a complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which investigates Hatch Act violations."

The 1939 Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from using their official authority to influence an election.

White House spokesman Raj Shah said: "Ms. Conway did not advocate for or against the election of a candidate, and specifically declined to encourage Alabamans to vote a certain way."

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Walter Shaub, former director of the Office of Government Ethics
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Walter Shaub, former director of the Office of Government Ethics
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 8: Walter Shaub, Director of the United States Office of Government Ethics in Washington, DC on June 8, 2017. (Photo Linda Davidson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 8: Walter Shaub, Director of the United States Office of Government Ethics in Washington, DC on June 8, 2017. (Photo Linda Davidson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 01: Walter Shaub, former director of the Office of Government Ethics, participates in a briefing on about President Trump's refusal to divest his businesses and the administration's delay in disclosing ethics waivers for appointees, on Capitol Hill November 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 8: Walter Shaub, Director of the United States Office of Government Ethics in Washington, DC on June 8, 2017. (Photo Linda Davidson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 01: Walter Shaub, former director of the Office of Government Ethics, participates in a briefing on about President Trump's refusal to divest his businesses and the administration's delay in disclosing ethics waivers for appointees, on Capitol Hill November 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 01: Walter Shaub, former director of the Office of Government Ethics, participates in a briefing on about President Trump's refusal to divest his businesses and the administration's delay in disclosing ethics waivers for appointees, on Capitol Hill November 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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Conway came under criticism from the ethics office in February when she publicly endorsed fashion products sold by President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump.

Shaub, then head of the ethics office, wrote a letter to the White House in March voicing concern about the White House decision not to discipline Conway.

Shaub, who had clashed with the Trump administration over its business entanglements, has joined the Campaign Legal Center, a Washington-based nonpartisan group advocating for democratic reform.

(Reporting by Mohammad Zargham, and Roberta Rampton in West Palm Beach, Florida; Editing by David Gregorio and Susan Thomas)

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